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Abstract: It is not new that humanity has limits to its economic expansion. However, what to do if we already surpassed the ecological limits of the environmental systems? It is a great challenge to solve the environmental problems without compromising the social dimension. Degrowth is a strive for down-scaling society’s throughput in a fair and sustainable way. The essential questions answered in this work were: what is the sustainable degrowth perspective and what does it entail? Are the existent sustainability assessment metrics able to capture the degrowth-related concerns?
These questions were addressed first by doing a literature-based research and a posterior treatment and comparison of the results. The origin of the degrowth movement was delineated and afterwards the most updated publications gave the basis to understand in what way policy-making can be crucial to achieve degrowth goals.
After knowing what were the policy goals, they were contrasted with existing sustainability assessment indicators, being them aggregated measures and sets of indicators. The economic aggregated metrics analysed were: Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) and Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), Adjusted Net Savings (ANS) and Genuine Savings (GS), Ecological Domestic Product (EDP) and Environmentally Sustainable National Income (eSNI). The biophysical and social aggregated measures analysed were: Environmental Performance Index (EPI), Living Planet Index (LPI), Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production (HANPP), Ecological Footprint (EF), Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI), Well-being Assessment Index (WI), Happy Planet Index (HPI), Human Development Index (HDI), Sustainable Society Index (SSI), Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI), and Canadian Index of Well-being (CIW). The sets of indicators analysed were: Core Set of Indicators of the European Environment Agency (CSI-EEA), European Union Set of Sustainable Development Indicators (EU-SDIs), Japan For Sustainability Indicators (JFI), Millennium Development Goals Indicators (MDGI) and System of Indicators of Sustainable Development for Portugal(SIDS-Portugal).
The main results achieved were that neither existing aggregated metrics nor sets of indicators were able to capture all degrowth-related concerns. In spite of that fact, there are some metrics that can be very useful to assess some policy goals. Also, the goals that are less addressed open doors to new studies and new creation of metrics. It is discussed that the metrics that showed more connection points to degrowth goals were the more complete sets of indicators, since they are able to capture the different dimensions of sustainability assessment.